Although he has been a major star in the UFC for over a year, Conor McGregor has the most leverage he’s ever had right now.
He knocked Eddie Alvarez out in the main event of UFC 205 Saturday to become the lightweight champion and the first fighter to hold two championship belts simultaneously in UFC history.
Now at the top of both the featherweight and lightweight division, McGregor has many options and a difficult decision to make. At 145 pounds, he could rematch interim champ Jose Aldo. But, at this point, it seems more likely that he’ll stay at 155 pounds, where he could face either Khabib Nurmagomedov or Tony Ferguson next — or maybe even do battle with Nate Diaz for a third time.
Nurmagomedov, who’s undefeated, has been vying for a title shot for what seems to be ages, but more so now than ever. The Russian has largely yet to fight for UFC gold because of his lack of activity — prior to earlier this year, he had been out of action for nearly two years due to multiple injuries. And that doesn’t sit well with McGregor, and is one of the main reasons the Irishman isn’t so keen on a fight with Nurmagomedov.
“Look, he’s fought once in eight years,” McGregor said at the post-fight press conference. “He ain’t fight too frequent for my liking. For me to commit to something like that, I need solid proof that people are going to show up. And he’s a consistent pull-out merchant.
“I need to see activity. I need to see consistency. I need to see me. If you want me to come and change your life, if you want me to come pick you, you better have some damn reasons for me to do that.”
UFC 205 took place live from Madison Square Garden in New York City. McGregor defeated Alvarez in the second round after a dominant first five minutes, while Nurmagomedov defeated lightweight contender Michael Johnson via third-round submission on the preliminary card.